Two jets collide at Miami International Airport; no one was injured

 

atorres@MiamiHerald.com

Authorities Thursday night were at Miami International Airport investigating a collision between two commercial jets near the gates. No one was injured, but hundreds of passengers onboard one jet were stranded and left in search of a new flight.

The planes sustained damage — one on its wingtip, the other to its tail section, said MIA spokesman Marc Henderson. Several other flights were delayed before authorities moved the planes. Authorities are investigating the cause of the collision.

“Neither plane will be flying tonight,” Henderson said.

About 5:45 p.m., between Concourses J and H, an Aerolineas Argentinas Airbus arrived with 240 passengers onboard, and struck an Air France 777-300 plane readying at the gate to fly to Paris with some 350 passengers onboard.

Both planes were quickly surrounded by rescue units and airport workers on the tarmac.

The passengers arriving from Argentina were allowed off the plane. The passengers on the Air France flight were forced to pick up their luggage and stand in line for hours to reschedule their flights.

Hundreds of passengers were in four lines at the Air France counters. Some shouted at Air France employees, others argued among themselves.

“The first altercation I saw was a group of guys that got fed up with people cutting in front of them,” said Alex Legion, 24, a professional basketball player from Hungary. “The second altercation I saw was when people from business class started to cut the economy line and a lady and a guy got into an argument.”

For passenger Veronica Ramudo, 29, it would have been her first trip to Paris. About two hours after the crash, she had to rescheduled her first trip to Paris for the last week of May.

The Doral Academy teacher said she was walking to her seat 49-F when she felt “like an earthquake was happening.” With one hand, she held her bag and with the other she held on to a chair.

When she reached her seat, an announcement was made in three languages that another plane had hit the Air France flight.

“My husband is coming to pick me up,” Ramudo said. “He will be happy to see me.”

A group of four biology graduate students, a mother and an ecology professor from La Universidad de Valencia in Valencia, Spain had just boarded the Air France flight when the crash occurred.

The group had spent five days at the International Biogeography Society conference at Florida International University and spent a few other days exploring the Everglades and the Florida Keys.

"The plane shook a bit but the hit wasn't strong enough to make it lose stability," Aina Taberner, 29, a student in Valencia said in Spanish, as she stood in line hoping to make “reasonable travel arrangements” to get back home.

“We waited for about 30 minutes before we were asked to get off the plane," said the group’s professor Jose Antonio Gil-Delgado. And he said it took them about an hour to pick up their luggage.

“The plane hadn't even moved from the gate,” Jose Mora, a student, said in Spanish. "No one panicked. The damage was minimal."

The crash, Mora said, was part of their “unique” Miami adventure.

“This is not a very common occurrence,” MIA spokesman Henderson said. “I can’t recall the last time we had planes collide.”

Last month, two commercial aircraft were damaged at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport when the wingtip of one clipped the tail section of the other, which was parked and out of service.

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